Ex-Raven joins UH staff
By Stephen Tsai
Mike Smith shares the nation's most common surname.
But, to be sure, the University of Hawai'i football team's newest graduate assistant is unique.
"He was one of the toughest linebackers I've ever coached," Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach said of Smith. "He did it the hard way. He became a player through great determination, which, I think, says a lot about him. He'll be a good teacher. I can't say enough good things about him."
Smith comes to the Warriors with a decorated resume.
He was a four-year starter — two as team captain — at Texas Tech.
He played four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, serving as All-Pro Ray Lewis' backup, before negotiating a medical buyout last summer. He officially retired two months ago.
He then called UH head coach Greg McMackin, who said there might be an opening on the staff this semester. David Gilmore decided not to return.
"I was his first recruit," Smith said of McMackin, who accepted the Tech defensive coordinator's job in January 2000.
"I've always been close to coach Mack," Smith said. "He believed in me since the very beginning."
It was McMackin who helped channel Smith's on-field aggressiveness.
"I consider myself to be old school," Smith said. "Football should be played as a man's sport. I don't hold anything back. Football isn't a game for women or children or the faint of heart. It's a tough sport."
Smith was the Ravens' seventh-round pick in 2005, joining a defense that featured six current or future All-Pros.
"My first practice, I was already running late," Smith recalled. "They made all of the rookies tape last. I was nervous. When I got out there, (All-Pro defensive end) Terrell Suggs was just staring at me. They gave me the hardest time. But we all became good friends. I was blessed to play those years."
He also learned from Lewis.
"He's a very intense guy," Smith said. "Off the field, he's the nicest person. I was lucky to play with a guy like him."
Lewis and Smith often would discuss McMackin. Lewis played under McMackin at the University of Miami.
"We always talked about the keys coach Mack told us to look for," Smith said. "He really helped us out a lot.
"Coach Mack has had such a successful career. All of the players respect him. He has so much respect in college football and the NFL. Everybody knows coach Mack. I told him: 'When I'm your age, I hope I'll have half the resume you had.' "
Smith said he plans to join the staff in about three weeks. He said he will assist defensive coordinator Cal Lee with the linebackers and also work with special teams coordinator Chris Tormey.
"I can't wait to meet the players, learn the system and start my coaching," Smith said. "I'm glad to be a Warrior. It's a great program. I'm lucky to be part of a great staff."
Leach said: "He has that gritty tough streak that will transfer to the players he works with. He understands football is a tough game for tough people. When he left our program, that was the hardest thing to replace about him. Not just his leadership, but his toughness on the field. He's not your garden-variety guy. He's at a different level. The people in Hawai'i will enjoy that."
2010 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
|Sept. 2||USC||5:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 11||at Army||TBA|
|Sept. 18||at Colorado||TBA|
|Sept. 25||Charleston Southern||TBA|
|Oct. 2||Louisiana Tech *||TBA|
|Oct. 9||at Fresno State *||TBA|
|Oct. 16||Nevada *||TBA|
|Oct. 23||at Utah State *||TBA|
|Oct. 30||Idaho *||TBA|
|Nov. 6||at Boise State *||TBA|
|Nov. 20||San Jose State *||TBA|
|Nov. 27||at New Mexico State *||TBA|